By Gladys Fred Kole
Norwegian ambassador to South Sudan, Linken Nymann Berryman, has urged South Sudan government to take concrete steps to put an end to sexual violence against women and girls.
“We urge the government to take concrete steps to put an end to sexual violence against women and girls by addressing the drivers of conflicts and bringing the perpetrators of this to account.” Linken remarked.
The Ambassador made the appeal on Monday during celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.
She cited that Norway stands with all the survivors of sexual violence.
The International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict is commemorated on the 19th of June each year to highlight the need to end conflict-related sexual violence.
It also honors survivors of sexual violence as well as those who devoted their lives and others who lost their lives in standing up against sexual violence in conflict.
This year, the commemoration was held under the theme “Strengthening Accountability, Ending Conflict-Related Sexual Violence (CRSV).”
The event seeks to highlight the importance of accountability in combating sexual violence in conflict and also aimed at raising awareness on the importance of eliminating sexual violence in conflict.
It further showcased some of the work in this regard by the European Union, the German Embassy, GIZ, their implementing partners, and other stakeholders.
According to UN’s Geneva report 21 March 2022, South Sudanese women are physically assaulted, being raped at gunpoint typically held down by men while being abused by others.
“Women are told not to resist in the slightest way and not to report what happened, or they would be killed,” the report stressed.
The UN report highlights widespread sexual violence against women and girls in conflict, fueled by systemic impunity.
An account of a woman in the UN report, described her friend being raped by a man in the forest, who then said he wanted to continue to ‘have fun’ and further raped her with a firewood stick until she bled to death.
Teenage girls also described being left for dead by their rapists while bleeding heavily. Medical personnel say many survivors have been raped multiple times throughout their lives.
Meanwhile, on March 16, 2016, the UN Human Rights Council had established a Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan to document and report on human rights violations, including sexual violence against women.
The rights commission has been subsequently extended its mandate for every year since its inception in 2016.
In April 2023, following the fifty-second session, the Council also extended the Commission’s mandate for another year with resolution 52/1.
“It is outrageous and completely unacceptable that woman’s bodies are systematically used on this scale as the spoils of war,” declared Yasmin Sooka, chair of the UN Commission.
“Urgent and demonstrable action by authorities is long overdue, and South Sudanese men must stop regarding the female body as ‘territory’ to be owned, controlled, and exploited,” she echoed.
The yearly occasion also aims to bring together partners, organizations, and activists working on the topic in South Sudan to strengthen knowledge on sexual violence in conflict and sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
It also provides an opportunity for exchange and networking amongst stakeholders and professionals within the sector.